"Codependence and interdependence are two very different dynamics. Codependence is about giving away power over our self-esteem. . . . Interdependence is about making allies, forming partnerships. It is about forming connections with other beings."

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"The way to healthy interdependence is to be able to see things clearly - to see people, situations, life dynamics and most of all ourselves clearly. If we are not working on healing our childhood wounds and changing our childhood programming then we cannot begin to see ourselves clearly let alone anything else in life."


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the Web Site of Robert Burney and Joy to You and Me Enterprises.

Robert Burney is a codependence therapist, Spiritual teacher, and the author of the Joyously inspirational book

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

On this page is a column about the difference between interdependence and codependence.
Quotations in maroon are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney (Copyright 1995). Quotations from columns & articles (Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999) written by Mr. Burney are noted and in blue text. Blue text material that is not in quotes is from Robert's upcoming book Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light (Copyright 1998) unless otherwise noted. There are several authors quoted in excerpts from The Dance of Wounded Souls, those are noted with copyright acknowledgment at the end of the appropriate page.


Codependence vs. Interdependence

By Robert Burney M.A.

"In order to stop giving our power away, to stop reacting out of our inner children, to stop setting ourselves up to be victims, so that we can start learning to trust and Love ourselves, we need to begin to practice discernment. Discernment is having the eyes to see, and the ears to hear - and the ability to feel the emotional energy that is Truth. 

We cannot become clear on what we are seeing or hearing if we are reacting to emotional wounds that we have not been willing/able to feel and subconscious attitudes that we have not been willing/able to look at. We cannot learn to trust ourselves as long as we are still setting ourselves up to be victimized by untrustworthy people."

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"Not only were we taught to be victims of people, places, and things, we were taught to be victims of ourselves, of our own humanity. We were taught to take our ego-strength, our self-definition from external manifestations of our being. . . Looks, talent, intelligence - external manifestations of our being are gifts to be celebrated. They are temporary gifts. They are not our total being. They do not define us or dictate if we have worth. We were taught to do it backwards. To take our self-definition and self-worth from temporary illusions outside of, or external to our beings. It does not work. It is dysfunctional."
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls


Codependence and interdependence are two very different dynamics.

Codependence is about giving away power over our self-esteem. Taking our self-definition and self-worth from outside or external sources is dysfunctional because it causes us to give power over how we feel about ourselves to people and forces which we cannot control. Any time that we give power over our self-esteem to something outside of ourselves we are making that person or thing our higher power. We are worshiping false gods.

If my self-esteem is based on people, places, and things; money, property, and prestige; looks, talent, intelligence; then I am set up to be a victim. People will not always do what I want them too; property can be destroyed by an earthquake or flood or fire; money can disappear in a stock market crash or bad investment; looks change as I get older. Everything changes. All outside or external conditions are temporary.

That is why it is so important to get in touch with our Spiritual connection. To start realizing that we have worth because we are children of God. That we are all part of the Eternal ONENESS that is the God Force/Goddess Energy/Great Spirit. We are Spiritual beings having a human experience - our worth as beings is not dependent upon any outer or external condition. We are Unconditionally Loved and we always have been.

The more we can start owning the Truth of who we really are and integrating it into our relationship with ourselves, the more we can enjoy this human experience that we are having. Then we can start learning how to be interdependent - how to give power away in conscious, healthy ways because our self-worth is no longer dependent on outside sources.

Interdependence is about making allies, forming partnerships. It is about forming connections with other beings. Interdependence means that we give someone else some power over our welfare and our feelings.

Anytime we care about somebody or something we give away some power over our feelings. It is impossible to Love without giving away some power. When we choose to Love someone (or thing - a pet, a car, anything) we are giving them the power to make us happy - we cannot do that without also giving them the power to hurt us or cause us to feel angry or scared.

In order to live we need to be interdependent. We cannot participate in life without giving away some power over our feelings and our welfare. I am not talking here just about people. If we put money in a bank we are giving some power over our feelings and welfare to that bank. If we have a car we have a dependence on it and will have feelings if it something happens to it. If we live in society we have to be interdependent to some extent and give some power away. The key is to be conscious in our choices and own responsibility for the consequences. 

The way to healthy interdependence is to be able to see things clearly - to see people, situations, life dynamics and most of all ourselves clearly. If we are not working on healing our childhood wounds and changing our childhood programming then we cannot begin to see ourselves clearly let alone anything else in life. 

The disease of Codependence causes us to keep repeating patterns that are familiar. So we pick untrustworthy people to trust, undependable people to depend on, unavailable people to love. By healing our emotional wounds and changing our intellectual programming we can start to practice discernment in our choices so that we can change our patterns and learn to trust ourselves.

As we develop healthy self-esteem based on knowing that the Force is with us and Loves us, then we can consciously take the risk of Loving, of being interdependent, without buying into the belief that the behavior of others determines our self-worth. We will have feelings - we will get hurt, we will be scared, we will get angry - because those feelings are an unavoidable part of life. Feelings are a part of the human experience that we came here to learn about - they cannot be avoided. And trying to avoid them only causes us to miss out on the Joy and Love and happiness that can also be a part of the human experience.



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Copyright 1997 by Robert Burney   PO Box 977   Cambria, CA 93428

(This column originally appeared in the Information Press of San Luis Obispo California.)